Retail and Urgent Care clinics present a growing segment of healthcare for many Americans. Convenience, accessibility, and cost are shaping patients’ decisions for care locations. These clinics are usually staffed by Nurse Practitioners (NPs) and Physician Assistants (PAs), they typically charge less than private practices, and they have been thought to prevent increases in Emergency Department visits. A press release by RAND Corporation lists retail clinics at numbering over 2,000 in 2016.
This wave of retail clinic growth unsettles pediatricians, as both a focus on the continuum of care and revenue are impacted by every use. In addition, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) opposes retail clinics as an acceptable setting for infant and child medical care. As pediatricians and the APP support the medical home concept of care coordination and complete record-keeping, a retail clinic’s treatment can be fragmented and not focused on chronic care management. In addition, concerns exist that retail clinic providers are not specialty-trained in pediatric care, and that follow-up care is not coordinated.
Although retail and Urgent Care clinics reflect changes in the healthcare industry, here are a series of tactics a practice can use to address this shift in patient behavior:
- Patient-Friendly Services
- Stand Out From The Crowd
- Embracing Business Fundamentals
- Detailed Practice Performance Metrics
- Patient Engagement Focus
1. Telemedicine options: This offering promotes convenience, while keeping the patient and their family in the practice, keeping a complete record, and assuring appropriate care is delivered.
2. Patient-friendly services: Determine what patients and their families really want – determine how they decide to get patient care. Transparency, flexible scheduling, evening and weekend hours, same-day appointment availability and one-stop service offerings (including pharmacy and vitamin options) are paramount.
3. Stand Out From the Crowd: Access, convenience, respect and reputation are key drivers; however, quality, practice comfort, patient education, and pediatric event sponsorship can help. Engage and embrace social media – your patients use it.
4. Embracing Business Fundamentals: A practice is a business and thus requires a thorough focus on a business strategy, understanding the competition, their value proposition, and creating a growth strategy that is strongly aligned to the practice mission.
5. Detailed Practice Performance Metrics: Supporting business fundamentals means a keen understanding of what “things” really cost. It is imperative to understand:
- Days in A/R
- What each patient, encounter, and product costs the practice
- How each CPT code maps to a specific RVU level
6. Patient Engagement Focus: As patients want more control managing their health while engaging with a trusted provider, patient portals, concise information, and detailed resources are required. Patients seek out providers that provide digital accessibility and offer an opportunity for self-management.
As more and more healthcare costs are shouldered by consumers, patients and their families are demanding a detailed understand of the value proposition, whether informational, cost-based, or treatment-focused. When pediatricians understand healthcare consumers' needs, they have an opportunity to connect with patients and their families in a meaningful way, support the medical home concept and assure financial viability for their practice.